MarieBelle New York wanted to draw in audiences worldwide with an engaging and magical brand film that captured every chocolate lover's fantasy. Here is the story of how Neymarc Visuals brought a chocolate brand to life.
MarieBelle New York is well-known for their vintage aesthetic and continuous reinvention of how people enjoy chocolate. While the line of chocolates and the physical shops themselves are timeless, Maribelle’s strong and sophisticated branding needed to grow by adapting to the twenty-first century’s need for narrative video storytelling.
Andrew and Remy Neymarc, co-founders and directors at Neymarc Visuals, were regulars of the flagship store located in SoHo, New York. They were passionate about the shop, especially its hot chocolate, but recognized that MarieBelle needed video marketing to expand their reach and increase brand awareness. With online video being one of the most effective marketing tools of the modern era, the brothers knew that their creative and strategic resources at their agency would be able to take the MarieBelle brand to new heights and create tangible results for its owner and founder, Maribel Lieberman. During one of they frequent visits, they connected with Maribel, who welcomed the opportunity to work together.
MarieBelle has multiple storefronts in New York and Japan and ships their designer chocolate all over the world. The film needed to genuinely connect with a wide range of cultures and drive traffic to their website to increase brand awareness.
The target audience consisted of the American, Latin, and Asian markets. To touch the multiple demographics within these targeted audiences, our team had to hone in on the commonalities that chocolate lovers across the world shared. “We tried to think of the biggest fantasy a chocolate enthusiast would have, regardless of age, culture or nationality” says Andrew Neymarc, who co-wrote the film. A few ideas were born from this premise. One was to feature many of MarieBelle's chocolates and ground the narrative around the shop itself; the other was more magical and created an illusory world within the store. The latter resounded more with the brand and their goals to attract a sophisticated, modern audience.
With such a multitude of cultures to reach, we decided that the narrative had to be pure visual storytelling. “A lack of dialogue removed the possibility of a language barrier and allowed for audiences to be wholly inspired by the fairy-tale and imagination of the film” notes Remy Neymarc who co-directed the film.
If every child's dream is to be trapped in a toy store, every chocolate lover's fantasy is to be locked in a chocolate shop. How do we make that even more magical? Have the store come to life. The narrative follows our spirited main character as she explores her cocoa-filled surroundings and indulges in the true magic of chocolate.
During the audition process and then rehearsals, our team explored the store with starring actress Hayley Babula, determining together what would happen, where, and how we would make it work visually. We were able to develop general ideas and markers for events, but most of what we needed would be done in post-production. Hayley's choreography was the anchor for our team's visual effects (VFX).
Planning a whole new world within a cozy salon was a very ambitious task. The sheer number of shots that our team needed to capture the story of a magical chocolate shop was overwhelming – especially for two days of shooting. The only way to achieve a high degree of realism without losing the fairy-tale-tone of the narrative or going over budget was to blend CG and practical effects.
This blend of effects came into play during the cocoa powder explosions. Michael Tan, VFX Supervisor at Neymarc Visuals, rigged small containers of flour with gaffers tape and plastic wrap, then, manually triggered them to release once it was time. From there, the team layered it with CG and brought it to the right shade to create the stunning effects featured in the film.
To leverage Mariebelle's iconic design, the creative team knew they had to incorporate the stunning Nutcracker Box line into the story. Our visual effects team decided to model all of the featured products in CG. They captured details in texture and used software to fully control their motion and create visuals like the chocolate tornado that swirls around our main character.
"Chocolate is Magic" was first premiered physically at MarieBelle's Soho store in New York City. Maribel used the film to open her holiday party, celebrating her cover of Resident Magazine's Holiday issue with the press team. The film was well received and earned itself a round of applause from all the attendees.
When the brand film was released on social media as a holiday campaign, MarieBelle attached a discount code to help track traffic and see their video campaign results. Because this film was so focused on creating a new and magical world rather than promoting a product line, viewers found it easier to share the video with their friends. People were simply immersed in the idea of being locked in a fantastic chocolate shop and didn't feel as though they were advertising for the brand.
Over 72k unique viewers saw the piece. The metrics exceeded all expectations of the brand, and even won four Telly Awards:
Client: Mariebelle Chocolates
Writers & Directors: Andrew & Remy Neymarc
Producer: Sarah Verstraete
VFX Supervisor: Michael Tan
Music: Christopher Dierks